We panic at the slightest deviation from a normal temperature, both in ourselves and in our children.
We often reach for the medicine at the first sign of a fever, giving little or no thought to what that medicine may be.
The enemy is always the temperature…never the pill or the elixir that will bring it down to that safe and comfortable zone.
After my recent experience with the little guy, what was particularly scary was the lack of alternatives to Calpol, baby paracetamol. It seems to be universally accepted and unquestioned by the doctors, nurses, pediatricians and health visitors whom we encountered.
Although we received fantastic and thorough care in hospital (first time mum panic) when I expressed concern about the E numbers, my worry was brushed aside and overlooked for the single minded chasing down of that fever.
It is time to challenge that thinking. Time to take a more positive look at the fever, and time to step away from the baby paracetamol/acetaminophen and ibuprofen
Bugs, bacteria and other little nasties thrive at body temperature (36.1 to 37.2C). Once the immune system detects a problem, it turns up the heat, literally, to kill off the baddies. A raised temperature is actually beneficial to the body in this kind of situation.
It is usually the underlying cause of the fever that makes baby uncomfortable, and figuring out the cause is the hard part…Reaching for the medicine seems like the easy bit. A simple virus, like the flu, is probably the most common cause of a temperature, but it could be bacterial (ear or urinary tract infections), fungal, parasitic or even the side effect of a medicine. Before you panic, it could be something a simple as too many layers on baby, over swaddling, teething or an immunization reaction.
When is Calpol a bad thing?
Calpol itself contains a cocktail of E-numbers, known hormone disruptors and carcinogens, of which some are even banned in other countries.
E420 sorbitol, E214: Ethyl-p-hydroxybenzoate, E216 Propylparaben. E218 Methyl 4-hydroxybenzoate an anti-fungal preservative.
There has also been research to show a very strong link between the use of paracetamol in the first twelve months of life and asthma, eczema and allergies at six years old. Pretty compelling read when you notice that it wasn’t a small sample tested but 205 487 children aged 6—7 years from 73 centers in 31 countries!
OK, so in an emergency its a necessary evil, and I would hope not to administer the stuff in any great quantity for it to have negative effects, but apart from the paracetamol dosage guidelines, there is no information on safe E number dosage?
Calpol has a massive market share in the UK, preying on worried, vulnerable parents and overheated babies…are many parents relying too much on the use of baby paracetamol for every minor malady to the point where hormones may be disrupted and cells changed? It is a scary thought.
So here is a handy guide to the levels of a fever, this is so useful when you are in the grips of a fever panic with baby! It may help you employ the watch and wait model of care. It was compiled with guidance from birth.com.au
36 to 37o C (96.8 to 98.6o F) Lower than this may be a separate cause for concern.
37 to 37.5o C (98.6 to 99.5o F) Possibly due to overheating, overdressing, over swaddling etc. Remove some layers, loosen clothing, use thin and lightweight sheets, a luke warm sponge down may help.
37.5 to 38C (99.5 to 100.4F) Slightly poorly baby, possibly an immunization side effect, or maybe teething. Still not a great cause for concern, strip down to a single layer, a luke warm sponge down may help.
38 to 38.5C (100.4 to 101.3F). Bacterial infection or viral illness, often with other visible symptoms. Still may not require medication, follow the above guidelines, consider how uncomfortable baby is a tepid bath (not cold) may help.
A very high temperature.
38.5 to 39C (101.3 to 102.2F). Heading into the worrisome zone. This is the point at which I would get the medicine at the ready, and watch and wait for signs of extreme discomfort.
Extremely high temperature.
39 and 40C (102.2 to 104F). This is the point at which febrile convulsions may start. 102F is the limit for me personally, and the point at which I administer medicine.
Obviously I am not a doctor, I use my judgement, I think that is the key here…watch, wait, watch then act. One thing that was a real comfort to me and the little guy during our fever panic was that he still wanted my milk, so I gave him my milk, that I had control over and that was priceless.
What alternatives do you use to bring down a fever?
- There are some great natural cough remedies here.
- How to Take Your Baby’s Temperature & What Thermometer to Us (everydayfamily.com)